NFTs are all the buzz lately in the world of art, and like any good thing, they’re currently being used and abused by an army of grifters looking to make the quickest buck possible with the most minimal of effort. Insomniac Games art director Gavin Goulden discovered that some of his work had been stolen by an NFT scammer, who created a fake Gouldren account and populated it with designs for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Marvel’s favourite cyborg zombie Deathlok.
Gouldren is far from the only artist who has had to deal with hucksters going after their work, with numerous other artists reporting seeing their designs up for sale as NFTs. Adam Fisher saw one of his Dark Knight designs doing the rounds, Marvel Studios concept artist Jeff Simpson saw his work on a Little Mermaid piece, and Twitter is crawling with mentions right now from other affected professionals.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself what the heck an NFT is. In disgustingly brief detail, here’s the gist of it: Nonfungible tokens essentially allow a person to buy the digital original of an artwork. For a prime example, the NBA has been selling NFTs of iconic moments during basketball games that photographers captured, earning a silly amount of cash in the process.
You might think it’s weird that people would pay a handsome sum for a JPG as opposed to an actual piece of art that you can hold in your hands, but that’s not the point. The value of art is subjective, and its overall worth comes down to what people believe it is worth. Whether that is physical or digital, makes no real difference. Being able to officially show off the bragging rights to the artwork, which in the case of NFTs is saying that you own the original image that all others come from, is all that matters.
And it’s not something that artists are opposed to either! NFTs when used properly allow them to earn a decent amount of coin for their labour, which is no small feat in a world that regularly undervalues art. The problem now is that it’s disgustingly easy for a scammer to simply take any available image online and run it through a token account to create an NFT that can be sold for big profit.
I’m not joking about the money either, as Raf Grassetti, the art director of the popular video game God of War, has created 3D models of celebrities that have sold for tens of thousands of dollars. Mike Winkelmann, an artist whose work never sold for more than $100 per pop, sold for $69 million at Christie’s. Nice.
It’s a wild new frontier for the art world, one that has the potential to create millionaires overnight and revolutionise how art is consumed. And just like the old world, people will need to be warier than ever before for scam artists who have already moved in and started making a dirty buck.
Last Updated: March 12, 2021